Poor person's freshest coffee choice

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
KarlInSanDiego
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#1: Post by KarlInSanDiego »

We've taken a big cut in family income as I now work at an entry level position at a non-profit, and our coffee budget shrank from buying locally roasted beans years ago, to buying the cheapest beans money can buy at Winco, where all their bulk coffee is priced the same, and it's all stale as hell. Or so I've assumed based on crema being a distant memory for me. But it's reasonable to assume even bulk coffee in a massive grocery must sell at varying rates, so there might be a good reason for me to choose one (organic?) bean over another strictly off the basis of one being 8 weeks old instead of 3 months old. :?

Do we have any grocery workers or former grocery workers here, or fellow cheap coffee buyers, who could give guidance about what variety sells in the highest volume, vs. what doesn't so I can try to use some logic in finding the mildly fresher bad beans in the mix? Is all bulk coffee relatively the same amount of old? Am I underrating Red Brick Coffee at Winco, and maybe just falsely accusing them of selling no-so-fresh? I recall many moons ago, seeking out the variety with two hoppers of the same, assuming that meant it was selling more/fresher.

Hope this silly post draws some useful discussion about budget choices, vs. judgement that fresh beans are worth it. It's not helpful to suggest we eat beans and rice and pay for better coffee, cause we already eat beans and rice. I'm lucky that I work from home and get to use my equipment to make espresso drink coffees all day long.

If it helps understand our situation, I make mostly lattes & I use less coffee than I'd like because thrift and end up splitting the shot between two cups. Old-bean espresso isn't very tasty anyway. I've got a V1 Silvia I lovingly perform surgery on occasionally and Rocky with 15 year old burrs. (thinking of new teeth for Rocky soon)

SutterMill
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#2: Post by SutterMill »

I can't really speak to budget coffees, but I found some success years ago by roasting my own beans. I used a thrift store hot air popper ($7), colander I already had and $7 green beans from Bodhi Leaf. Brazilian if I remember correctly.

You would need a place with a plug outside to do this as it makes a bit of a mess (chaf) and the smell can linger for days if done indoors. Not to mention smoke alarms going off. Learned that one the hard way.

Splatcat
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#3: Post by Splatcat »

Before I moved to pumpkin patch , I paid about $20 for a pound of beans from almost every cafe in town. And there were loads. Here the nearest cafe is 15 or so miles away. Pre covid I'd make the drive every week and even with gas be well under $20 a pound. Now I mail order all my beans. Maybe you can find fresher, cheaper, good beans by mail, even with shipping.

https://www.speederandearls.com/collect ... l-products

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another_jim
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#4: Post by another_jim »

You can do substantially better getting a cheap home roaster and bulk buying green beans.

A basic popcorn popper or stove top coffee roaster costs under 50 dollars. Sweet Maria's sells a much more controlable air roaster at $80. Green coffee suitable for espresso, and way better than supermarket stuff, can be had from on line vendors for home roasters at $5 to $8 per pound. Ethiopian and Vietnamese markets sell dicier green coffee at $3 to $5 per pound.
Jim Schulman

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Jeff
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#5: Post by Jeff »

I don't know your target budget, but S&W Craft Roasters is one of the least expensive, high-quality roasters I know of. Right now they're around $11 for 300 g which works out to a bit under $17 per 16 oz pound.

KarlInSanDiego (original poster)
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#6: Post by KarlInSanDiego (original poster) »

Thanks for the home roast ideas. I don't know if I'll go there, but it's nice to consider that option. The Winco coffee I referenced is $7.98 / lb.

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Sal
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#7: Post by Sal »

I have purchased roasted coffee from reputable roasters as low as $5.75/lb (with shipping) when they are on sale. Those sales do not happen often, but if you watch out for the bargain, it is possible. Although I have overspent my budget on several occasions, my set budget for coffee is $8/lb, either purchased from roasters or buying greens and roasting them myself.

After 1+ year of exploration buying roasted beans, I now have concluded that more expensive coffees are not necessarily better tasting coffees. In fact, in general, I can roast green coffee to my liking at a fraction of the cost of buying roasted coffee I have never had before. And I enjoy the cup from my own roast far more than anything I have purchased from commercial roasters.

FYI, my lifetime cost of roasted coffee (accounting for the 15% weight loss of greens) is currently $9.56/lb. (The average cost of greens is $7.46/lb now.) It was less than $8/lb (roasted coffee) last year. I purchased quite a bit of very expensive, greens in the past year and a half.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

LuvsMyEspresso
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#8: Post by LuvsMyEspresso »

KarlInSanDiego wrote:Thanks for the home roast ideas. I don't know if I'll go there, but it's nice to consider that option. The Winco coffee I referenced is $7.98 / lb.
Three years ago I took a big cut in pay when I was fortunate enough to retire. When I realized how much my coffee habit was costing the household I got out a spreadsheet and ran some numbers. Wife okayed the purchase of a Gene Cafe Roaster. In the two years that I have been home roasting I have literally paid for the roaster nine times over!

It is quite a lot of fun. These days I'm roasting for friends and family as well.

Cost, quality, freshness, and variety all make it SO worthwhile for me.

LuvsMyEspresso
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#9: Post by LuvsMyEspresso »

Sal wrote: FYI, my lifetime cost of roasted coffee (accounting for the 15% weight loss of greens) is currently $9.56/lb. (The average cost of greens is $7.46/lb now.) It was less than $8/lb (roasted coffee) last year. I purchased quite a bit of very expensive, greens in the past year and a half.
Super interesting to read this ... my figures are surprisingly close to these -- two years in. I love the fact the keeping the costs so (relatively) low allows for the occasional splurge as you mentioned. I'm expecting some Gesha in the mail this week!

randytsuch
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#10: Post by randytsuch »

Before I started roasting again, I would buy 5 pounds at a time, and freeze it in about 1/2 pound bags, vacuum packed.
If you can't vacuum pack, put them in a ziplock and get as much air out as possible.

Buying 5 pounds at a time, some places will ship for free.

Then watch for black friday or christmas sales.
I used to buy from Red Bay, and they would have 50% sales this time of year.

Randy